I just finished watching the PR Video made by Author Solutions' President Kevin Weiss. This current conglomerate, made up of bits and pieces of previous bottom-feeding organizations such as my former erstwhile employers iUniverse, is the brainchild behind approaching legitimate publishers such as Harlequin and Thomas Nelson with a deal they thought was too good to turn down - some sort of kickback for referring authors with rejected manuscripts on to a "special" side deal with Author Solutions.
The "Solution" for these authors? Paying handsomely for the privilege of "publishing" their books, which Harlequin made vague noises might, if surviving the logjam of unpublishable slushy manuscripts now slapped between covers, someday, somehow become "real" Harlequin books. This is why all legitimate writers' associations have now censured or outright said that Harlequin no longer qualifies as a professional publisher for the purposes of membership in the organizations. Victoria Strauss correctly points up that Thomas Nelson hasn't gotten as much flak as they should have gotten, as a Christian publisher with an already-going concern offering high-end, pricey services to Christian writers and manuscripts that have failed the "traditional" publishing route - i.e., rejected by Thomas Nelson legit publishing, and sent on to their new, theoretically lucrative "pay to play" option.
Would it be an awesome new Quentin Tarantino film - Inglourious Basterds II, with an "all-star" cast of fresh new faces who'd paid for the privilege of being in the film? Heck, why not push Brad Pitt aside, and find somebody with some real money who'll finance the picture for the privilege of starring in it? That old acting system, where some people never get to be the stars . . . oldfashioned and outmoded. Smart auteurs like Quentin will soon recognize the business potential here, and the person who can pay the most for the privilege clearly will be the best for the role. And heck, when Academy nomination time comes around, the same rules should come into play. The person who can most afford a starring role in the best director's film, can also pay for the best reviews, the best ads, and can offer the most lucrative awards to the Academy members to nominate, and later vote for them. Clearly, the stars of "The Hills" should be ahead in this regard; "Speidi" already thinks it is the most famous, talented duo on the planet.
Most professional writers do earn barely at or above a poverty wage and I'm no exception to that. However, it will be a cold day in inglorious hell before I bow to greasy, greedy, unscrupulous individuals such as this Weiss, preying eagerly on the dreams and hopes of well-meaning, innocent people.